Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Kuwaiti Men and the Women’s Vote

What is not to love about Kuwaiti men? Most of the Kuwaiti men I know are strong proponents of the Kuwaiti woman, sometimes, just as in my own country, the men are stronger proponents of women’s rights than the women are. Saw this editorial cartoon last week and intended to publish it, but somewhere, it got lost. No longer.

Kudos on you, Ahmed. Great cartoon!


April 11, 2009 - Posted by | Kuwait, News, Political Issues, Women's Issues


  1. I agree with u in a point about voting for women in one way … .If that woman was worthy to the “majlis” so am not voting for women for the sake of being women …. am voting only for the worthy ….
    and there is somethin in the pic. i dont like “vote for my sake and my FUTURE” as if the men are the disaster of the country…
    lets not make every so sexist …..
    and u said “women’s right” i dont like this word for a reason ….. its as if making women a political move
    as i said before lets not be so sexist….

    Comment by bo3li | April 11, 2009 | Reply

  2. Here’s my take on it, which is just a collection of thoughts I’ve often find myself thinking about when such topics arise:

    If, in any particular society, it comes down to having to seek refuge in women to take care of the country’s affairs because the men have made a mess of it, then that country is doomed if it takes that path of letting women (qualified or not) assume such public positions. (Reference can be made to the Prophet Muhammad’s saying:”No people/nation who assign their affairs (of governing) to a woman, would succeed/prevail”. Which is not to be taken as a belittering or insulting to women; see below for thoughts about this).

    The reason? Unless it includes a reasonable solution for doing away with all males in the society as well (and still continue to breed/survive), then they’ll be stuck in a vicous cycle. Why? Because who raised (or neglected to raise well) those messy men to begin with? Who, traditionally and historically (pre-women’s supposed ‘rights’ issues), is supposed to be spending the most hands-on time with the kids and thereby affects their upbringing the most?

    So, instead of focusing on analysing what went wrong in the family structure and where men and women both erred (or were pushed to err) in their (previously natural and harmonious gender) roles in the family, and giving the women back their true and rightful women’s RIGHT of attending to the household which is the basis for the well-being of the future generations without the woman having to necessarily worry about (and take the burden of) things like making a living (and worry about money to feed the kids!) and attending to numerous required affairs outside her kingdom (the household) which takes away from her valuable time and efforts and focus within the household!! (Not withstanding the specialities in the society that require the involvement of women of course; for example, non-mothers can be expected to contribute to this need; that’s not to say there is no room for exceptions where warranted, but the problem is when the exception becomes the rule), instead of all that, we viciously and brutely tear the women away from their rightful place and force them into the affairs of governance!!! (with all its facets including elections?) As if the the governance of the household is much easier of governing the country? Hell NO!!! If the woman is qualified enough, then let her deal with what really counts for the country: raising well men and women of the future. If we allow her to do that and facilitate it instead of hinder it (by burdening her through her supposed ’emancipation’!!!), only then will the households have a better chance of producing well men and women of the future.

    A well known poem verse in Arabic goes:
    The mother is a school, if you prepare it well, you have prepared a well nation/people.

    Wow, that was quite a run-on :p

    Comment by nbq | April 11, 2009 | Reply

  3. Oh… and I consider myself a Kuwaiti man who is a strong proponent of women. So, I would resent the insinuation that I am anti-women’s rights just because I might not think they should be invovled in affairs of governance. Particularly when there are women who are against it as well.


    Comment by nbq | April 11, 2009 | Reply

  4. NBQ – let the women decide whether they want to work or stay at home, that is not a man’s decision to make – the constitution says all genders are equal.

    Women in the Majlis can be a very, very good thing, they are less prone to business interests/corruption, are more in tune with social problems: divorce, accountability, health, environment, children, etc – I’d vote for them in a second.

    At this point in time in Kuwait we have seen men MPs gravitate towards self-interests – the women I know and have worked with have more ‘cojones’ than men and can get stuff done in a second – they work more conscientiously. Trust me I’ve worked in a hell of a lot of different places, sectors and countries and seen them in action.

    Men MPs – most not all – are into the power, business, good old fashioned ‘saloon politics’. Most Women have their eye on the children, the future, most men have their eye on maintaning and solidifying their political base.

    I’ll take a young man over an old seasoned veteran anytime and a female novice over a run of the mill male MP.

    Women represent 65% of the electorate here – the fact that a large chunk of them vote for men who were against them voting in the first place boggles the mind – they are their own worst enemy, if only they had more faith in their candidates, more women would make it in.

    Comment by hilaliya | April 12, 2009 | Reply

  5. Dear NBQ,

    Kind of idealist views you have got.

    Lets get practical here, gender roles will never be as you have described, that women take care of households and men go hunt for the living.

    Please consider what globalization has done to the world.

    If women need to manage the households, then consumerism and production will have dramatic falls. And at the rate of consumption the world is recording, there is a need for more employees/labor.

    Now we need both genders eh?

    Roles have changed and although synchronizing the natural gender roles and present roles has become a kind of hectic task for both the genders.

    For better future generations, both the parents/genders have almost equal roles to shape the future.

    And regarding the Prophet Muhummad’s (PBUH) saying, please take into consideration the absolute or relative implications and the time (historic) reference, to understand it better.

    I hope more men and women are educated the right way in the right institutions.

    ~ Soul

    Comment by Soul | April 12, 2009 | Reply

  6. Bo3ali – What you say is true. There are women who are every bit as capable of being corrupted as a man. Voting for the worthy candidate is the answer, not voting for a woman just because she is a woman. I had not seen that implication in the cartoon; I just saw – metaphorically – the future of the country calling for women leaders as well as men.

    NBQ – my friend, not every woman seeks fulfillment in the running of a household and the raising of children, nor is every woman suited for it. As God created us, so we must serve. When God creates women capable of leading and ministering, it is wasteful and disrespectful of God-given talent to suppress it, and to say “this is where you belong because you are female.” I think this cartoon was aimed at those very women you were talking about, those women who are against other women serving in public positions. Sadly, sometimes we are our own worst enemies.

    Hilaliya – We are our own worst enemy because we internalize those things we are told about being women and then project them on others. It isn’t easy to learn to think of oneself in a different way, but, by the grace of God, it is possible. Thank you, as always, for your support.

    Soul – I love it that you have such a positive take on equality of the sexes, and also mentioned the joint role as parents. Many studies show that a father’s positive attention makes all the difference in the world of future achievement. You are right, we need to be focused on working together, and learning how to do it – on every level – more successfully.

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 12, 2009 | Reply

  7. @Hilalya:
    1- Let women decide: it is forced
    2- “they are less prone to business interests/corruption, are more in tune with social problems”: That’s too idealistic and unrealistic. They too will have husbands, sons and daughters and relatives and friends whom they will be under pressure to ‘aid’. The corruption is in the system to begin with.

    3- “Trust me I’ve worked in a hell of a lot of different places, sectors and countries and seen them in action”
    How many of those sectors were in societies with the background like ours?

    4- “Women represent 65% of the electorate here – the fact that a large chunk of them vote for men who were against them voting in the first place boggles the mind – they are their own worst enemy”
    Hehe.. an interesting perhaps related juristic point I read about recently: a husband can tell his wife that she would be divorced if she does this or not do that (a conditional divorce). So, if the husband tells his wife “vote for these or else you are divorced”, then she’s stuck. She could vote against what he told her, but even if she doesn’t tell him, still, the divorce would take effect and she would be putting herself in a severe situation (on the day of judgment) if she does not tell him and continues to live with him. Of course, practically speaking, a husband shouldn’t really risk this if he knows she might do this behind his back, even if he probably wouldn’t be blamed for it if she does do that because she didn’t tell him and he didn’t know.

    1- Idealist views: I agree it looks very difficult to change back and resync the default roles; but it is not impossible and we can still make changes to restore some of the order, so we shouldn’t quit. I actually may have what you’d see as a rather pesimistic view of how things may get resynced, which I base on prophecies we are told: increased natural disasters, death, war/armagadeon etc…

    2- Globalization affect: I agree with you about that; but then there in lays the solution!! Put a curb on globalization or at least its effects and restore the natural divide ;p (this is where religious safeguards come in, or to some ‘fanatisizm’ ;p ).

    3- Regarding the Prophet’s saying: The scholars of the field have indeed considered whether there is an absolute or relative implication and application of the saying and how it pertains to other scripture, sayings and aspects, as they do with any other saying using the criteria/tools of their trade. So, it is not up to me (a non-specialist) or you to consider or not consider.

    4- “I hope more men and women are educated the right way in the right institutions”

    I hope so too.. and the first thing they need of course is parental classes for parents ;p and the importance of gender roles resyncing seminars to restore balance in the society ;p

    1- “When God creates women capable of leading and ministering, it is wasteful and disrespectful of God-given talent to suppress it”
    What? And how is it that you determine that a particular woman, or man for that matter, has been created capable of leading and ministering? And how in the world are you transposing this to necessarily mean leading and ministering in a public governance capacity? Leadership is just a skill that can be applied to other areas where this skill is even more needed.

    2- “not every woman seeks fulfillment in the running of a household and the raising of children, nor is every woman suited for it”
    I don’t want to get into a debate or details of this now (I feel it is a circular argument thing: we make the environment such that it pushes them away from this role, and then we say they don’t feel suited!), but also consider that “not every woman, or man even, seeks fulfillment in the job they are at”, still, often they do their job even if out of an obligation or duty if it is required of them (or else we make the environment less hostile for them).

    One more related point, even if I might agree to the ‘not suited’, ‘fulfillment’ and they should have a choice arguments, the problem I see in our society today is that there is surmounting pressure on those women who do not want to go into the workforce (or vote); or in other words, they are not being given much choice to chose that path. Take my family’s example, I see my wife (a school teacher) go through hell having to leave home early, barely beat the traffic, stand almost all day on her feet, take a lot of BS, then bring home a pile of work to do (that I have to help her with so she can go to sleep in time), which leaves her no real time for our kids and THEIR homework (which I help them with). Why doesn’t she quit you say? Well, the socio-economic situation that our society is cornered with leans heavily into requiring a two-income household. And we are not a frivilous family at all in terms of spending (Although, I did get a small 30 litre fish aquarium for the kids recently, lol)… but to put our kids through a decent education and plan for a future home of our own, etc… we have to have two-incomes like this. So we, and other families, are put in the corner. If instead, the role of provider is placed more on the man (and reflected in payroll and other aspects in the workforce), then women who want the choice of staying home can do so without sacrificing. Probably the only surviving supporting (divine) rule today with this regard is that men still inheret twice the amount that women do. The rest of the rules are faced with extreme external (‘western’) pressure to be skewedly modified to fit what the perpetrator’s think is the ‘modern/civilized’,’ideal’, ‘fair’ and ‘equal’ in their own view…as if they are TOTALLY BLIND to the mess that happened in their own socieites (increased crime, crime against women, rape, assault, etc….).
    So, I say, YES, give them a choice… the choice to STAY home without having such pressures.

    3- “We are our own worst enemy because we internalize those things we are told about being women and then project them on others”
    My rephrase ;p : those who object “they realize and understand the falacity of what is called women’s political ‘rights’ for what it is and so out of their concern for the well-being of their community and their fellow sisters they vote accordingly” (of course, given the actual reality of what really goes on in Kuwait in particular, my rephrase is probably rather cynical; but still…)

    As for your last point about mothers and fathers need to ‘work together’, that I think goes without saying… I didn’t imply that the father doesn’t have any roles at all in the household.


    Comment by nbq | April 12, 2009 | Reply

  8. Dear NBQ,

    Globalization has its roots in the daily markets.

    Lets take Kuwait as our reference so that we don’t deviate much from the line of discussion.

    Its really difficult to stage protests here in Kuwait to abolish foreign products/services.

    A self sufficient state is what we are looking at the idealistic goal.

    Atleast we need to realize the goals we are aiming at some expense, otherwise it is a waste of time and energy.

    “Men inherit twice the amount of work which women do.. ”
    That seems to be true *mostly* physically.

    Otherwise I don’t see why women are less efficient than men are.

    Now about the choice which is presented to women to stay at home or work, in majority of cases, is kind of biased focusing mostly on old role of woman leading to a pseudo pressure always on them.

    Can’t ignore that fact.

    I reinforce again that roles adjustment needs more common sense to be applied than just quoting lines.

    ~ Soul

    Comment by Soul | April 12, 2009 | Reply

  9. NBQ – The world you envision is, to me, grim and oppressive. I am glad women have the right to vote. I am delighted they have the right – and the courage – to run for office, and, God willing, to win, and to serve. I want women to be free to make their own choices.

    I want your wife to have the choice – and the education – to be able to work, or not to work. I understand what you are saying about wanting a better life for your children; it is still a choice.

    Your basic needs are being met by your salary?
    You have a roof over your head?
    You have food on the table?
    Your children go to school?

    So you are saying – please correct me if I have this wrong – that if a woman and a man are in the same job, putting forth the same effort to produce a given product, that the man should be earning more because he is the provider?

    And you are saying that we should take the women out of these positions, so men / providers can earn more?

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 12, 2009 | Reply

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